Being in the right place at the right time can often yield positive results, but only if you’re prepared to take advantage of the opportunities presented. In the case of Michigander Gordon Rojewski, he almost missed out on the Marina Blue ’67 Camaro seen here. The car, which was previously owned by noted industry member and car guy Todd Ryden, had been around the block, so to speak, before Ryden picked it up and sat on it for a while.
Rojewski had always lusted after the body lines of the ’67, and back at the beginning of the 20-teens, this car entered his world, basically from a sideways perspective. “I was looking for a ’67 Camaro for a Pro Touring build, and my good friend Mark Stielow knew of one that Todd Ryden was considering selling. Todd emailed some photos and it was exactly what I was looking for, even down to the Marina Blue paint,” Gordon says. “It was a solid, patina’d base model that spent most of its life in California before making its way to Indiana on an eBay sale and then eventually on to El Paso, Texas.”
As he tells us, timing is everything and when he initially came across the car he had to pass on the purchase, as he was soon to be married and didn’t want to take the chance of bringing a new project into a new marriage. And really, who can blame him? Letting the dust settle on the wedding vows isn’t exactly a bad idea if you’re preparing to get started on a new project, which will eat up a ton of your disposable budget and time. He didn’t let the dust settle for long, though.
“A couple of months passed and I happened to run into Todd on the 2011 Hot Rod Power Tour. I inquired if he still had that blue ’67 Camaro and, fortunately for me, it was never listed and was still for sale,” he says, and you know how the rest of the story goes. “We worked out a price and I had the car shipped from El Paso to Michigan within a few weeks.”
Rojewski, an engineer by trade, laid out a plan for the car’s build, but not before he and now-wife Liz spent that first summer driving it around in stock form before taking it to the next level. In those days, the car was a total base model, featuring the state-of-the-art 250-cubic-inch straight-six engine, Powerglide transmission, no air conditioner, and manual steering and brakes. Can you feel the irony in that statement? Read on for the details of what makes it so special today.
“It was the perfect candidate to transform into a unique Pro Touring car,” says Gordon. The car, which took three years to build, offers Gordon the ability to have fun at track days or roll along the Hot Rod Power Tour, and was designed that way from the outset. Brian Thomson of Thomson Automotive was selected to machine and assemble the Gen IV LS7 engine, which was originally 427 cubic inches but is now 442 cubic inches. To reach this displacement, the bore specs out at 4.130-inch with a stroke of 4.125-inch carved into the Callies crankshaft. Oliver connecting rods sling Diamond 12.0:1-compression pistons, sucking in and pushing the air out through the GM six-bolt LS7 cylinder heads.
Airflow is managed by a Lingenfelter Performance Engineering GT19 camshaft, which is a perfect match for this engine package and offers stout power figures and a choppy idle for that muscle car sound without impacting driveability. With 227/239-degrees of duration at 0.050-inch lift and 0.678/0.688-inch lift figures on a 114-degree centerline, the hydraulic LS7 lifters have their work cut out for them.
The LS7, which has been hailed by many as one of the finest V-8 engines ever designed by GM, features a dry-sump oiling system with a 12-quart capacity. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Thomson elected to retain the factory arrangement here. All of the typical components you’d find in a build of this caliber are present and accounted for, such as ARP hardware throughout, Trend Performance 4130 chromoly pushrods, and a Melling oil pump. Detroit Speed 1 7/8-inch headers are crafted from 304 stainless steel and feed into an exhaust system built by Diamond Fabrication with a set of 3-inch Borla mufflers and a custom x-pipe.
Two necessities for the track days this car sees are the C&R Racing engine oil cooler and big aluminum radiator, which help to keep the engine’s lubrication and cooling systems in check.
In a nod to current technology, the car features a Gen 5 Camaro ZL1 fuel pump and Fuel System Control Module to ensure adequate fueling. An OEM fuel-injection computer is also employed for simplicity’s sake. Dave Mikels handled engine calibration duties. D&D Performance was contacted to supply a tuned-up TREMEC T-56 transmission controlled by an MGW shifter. The transmission accepts the dyno-proven 680 flywheel horsepower through one of Centerforce’s DYAD twin-disc clutches and sends it through a 3.5-inch Dynotech Engineering aluminum driveshaft back to a Currie Enterprises 9-inch rear housing filled with a centersection from Strange Engineering and an Eaton helical diff along with a 3.82 gearset. C&R Racing did the install on the differential and gears.
With a goal of taking this car around turns often, Gordon made the choice to outfit the body with a complete Detroit Speed suspension system. In the front, a Detroit Speed hydroformed subframe is installed, complete with tubular upper and lower control arms and a splined antiroll bar.
In the rear, Detroit Speed’s QUADRALink suspension is used along with Detroit Speed mini-tubs and antiroll bar. Detroit Speed/JRi remote reservoir coilover shocks are used at all four corners for adjustability and repeatability at the track. The mini-tubs, Detroit Speed subframe connectors, and QUADRALink were all installed at Sled Alley Hot Rods.
In keeping with the theme, Brembo GT brakes were installed with six-pot calipers clamping 365mm rotors in the front and four-pot stoppers grabbing 345mm rotors in the rear. ABS is also in place to maximize driving capabilities. The fab work on this project was completed by Matt Gurjack at Sled Alley, who crafted a number of custom touches on the car, such as the custom air cleaner housing that holds an AEM filter element, the custom air induction tube, the center stack—which houses the Vintage Air HVAC ductwork and controls, along with the Alpine head unit—and the custom six-point rollbar among other items.
No Camaro is complete without killer tunes, and the aforementioned Alpine head unit controls an Alpine KTP-445U amplifier powering Focal front and Alpine rear speakers. Also inside, Recaro seats, brand-new GM reproduction interior panels, a MOMO steering wheel, and a full complement of AutoMeter gauges combine with a Race Technology Dash4Pro display unit to set this car’s interior off.
Externally, the patina’d paint makes the car completely unique, but the Formula 43 Rad 10 wheels complete the appearance. They measure 18x10 up front and 19x12 in the rear, with 275/35R18 front and 325/30R19 rear Michelin Pilot Sport tires to complete the package.
The Marina Blue exterior has had a clearcoat applied by ZRODS and Customs to help retain the unique finish without further deterioration, and the exterior of the car is unchanged to retain its classic lines, which attracted Rojewski all that time ago. We say he’s built a winner. What say you?
Photography by Robert McGaffin